Now a modern classic this comedy is loosely based on Jane Austen’s 1815 novel Emma but here transposed to Beverly Hills where a wealthy, good-looking fashion forward high school girl, Cher Horowitz, is happy to orchestrate her friends’ lives, even as she dabbles in her own affairs of the heart, and all the while adding to the lexicon. Totally! Whatever!
Director Amy Heckerling, who had also directed Fast Times at Ridgemont High, on her film’s connections to the novel:
I started to think, “What’s the larger context for that kind of a ‘nothing can go wrong’ ‘always looks through rose colored glasses’ kind of girl?” And I remembered Emma, which I’d read in college. So, I took it out and reread it, and I said: “Unconsciously, I’ve been writing an Emma-like character.” Because I’ve always loved it and part of it had sort of stored it away in my brain… So I really related to her and got into it. And the plot was so brilliantly laid out in Emma. So I tried to take all the things that were in this sort of pretty 1800s world and see what would that be like if it was in Beverly Hills.
The cast, in addition to Alicia Silverstone as Cher, includes Stacey Dash as Dionne, the late Brittany Murphy as Tai, plus Paul Rudd as Cher’s step-brother, Wallace Shawn as her English teacher, Dan Hedaya as her father, Donald Faison as Murray.
(US/1995/dir by Amy Heckerling/97 mins/PG-13